When My Thoughts and Good Books Collide {Book Review}

World View 

by Marvin Olasky

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Journalistic • Nonfiction • 198 Pages

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About the Book:

What would our common life be like if Christians were known not only for speaking truth, but also for demonstrating mercy? Marvin Olasky, best-selling author and editor in chief of World Magazine describes this kind of salty Christianity in a far-ranging collection of columns from World.

As Dr. Olasky comments on world events and also shares his personal interactions, readers will be encouraged to bring both grace and truth to every encounter. While deeply committed to standing for biblical truth in the public square, Olasky is just as interested in Christians living out the biblical virtues of humility, kindness, and mercy in all of life. His call for biblical values to include both truth and grace, makes his voice stand out in a world that often falsely divides those goals and settles for a poor imitation of the robust Christianity he calls readers to.

Curated collection of World columns that offer the best of Marvin Olasky. Sets forth a much needed vision for how Christians can speak truth and demonstrate mercy at the same time. A wonderful collection that all readers of World Magazine will want to have for their own library and an extra copy to share with a friend.

Why I Choose this Book:

I’m trying to expand my own worldview – learning more about what’s happening around me in the world today, as well as studying the recent past and learning from it. (As opposed to just focusing on the distant past.) Plus, our family has subscribed to World for a long time, so to read a book composed of World articles sounded interesting.

What I Thought about this Book:

 

Folks, this book is not one to sit down and read quickly. Most of the time I read the books I get for review rather fast – partly because I like to read fast, and also because having a deadline forces me to do so. I was able to take ten days to read this book (and just spent the last hour finishing it), but if I could have read it at my own pace, I think I would have taken several weeks, or even several months.
There are over 50 articles in this book – ranging over a period of about twenty years. It was so interesting for me to read articles that he wrote in the 1990s, and realize that these were the things going around in our country/the world when I was a small girl running around barefoot without a care in the world.
I don’t actually remember reading any of his articles in World, although that will be changing now that I’ve been introduced to his writing via this book. I was happily surprised at how unapologetic and yet grace-filled he was when sharing the truth. He didn’t bash, stoop, or condemn, but he stood strong and eloquent. He wrote his articles with grace and truth – just as the tagline on the book states.
With this being such a wonderful book, why did I wish I could have read it over a longer period of time? Because the articles were quite thought-provoking and deep. I’m pretty good at skimming and still getting the meat of what I read, but this book required my whole attention, as well as reading every word on the page. I also wanted to be able to sit back and mull over his thoughts, to turn them about in my brain and let them marinate. He has a lot of good stuff to say, as well as talking about issues that I’m not very familiar with. In addition to all that, some of his examples and vocabulary were foreign to me, and therefore I want to have more time to study them out and gain a better knowledge of what he was talking about.

Conclusion:

This book, as you may have guessed, is deep. It’s good. I didn’t quite understand everything because as I said, I need more time to delve into it. Overall though, I’m greatly impressed, glad I read the book, and know I gained a lot of good information.

Rating: 

I’m giving World View 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10

*I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review

Loving My LGBT Neighbor {Book Review}

Loving My LGBT Neighbor

By: Glenn T. Stanton

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First Person • NonFiction  • 208 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Ever feel like we’re just fumbling through the LGBT conversation, always asking but never really finding answers to questions like:

  • What does it look like to be friends with my lesbian neighbors?  
  • How should I love my gay child and his partner?
  • What if I’m invited to a same-sex wedding?
  • What did Jesus sayand not sayabout homosexuality?
  • What is the role of the church in the same-sex debate?

We don’t have to fumble. While the questions are hard, answers can be had. Just ask Glenn Stanton.

Stanton, of Focus on the Family, travels widely meeting with and debating LGBT advocates across the country. In doing so he has had the privilege of becoming friends with a number of them.

He says, “We disagree on certain convictions, but we still admire and esteem one another . . . Since when was it decided that people who see the world in polar opposite ways can’t be friends?” He shares his personal journey building bridges with the LGBT community and offers candid insights on hard questions.

In Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor, Glenn Stanton shows us how to speak the truth in love on this difficult but important issue.

Why I Choose This Book: 

Because I’ve asked all those ^ questions before (well, if you substitute “child” in the second question for “relative”). I really wanted to read a book where the author had really researched with the Bible had to say about the topic and then used that as the foundation for his book.

What I Thought about this Book:

 

I wasn’t sure what to think going into the book, but before long I was nodding along with what the author was saying and picking the book up every chance I got to read more.

There were a lot of things that when I first read it I was like “No, no, that can’t be right.” But then after thinking through it and really reading what the author had actually written, plus the scripture passages he’d quoted, and in nearly all the cases I ended up realizing that I did agree with him after all.

This book is special and unique because it’s written by a guy who is standing strong on the Word of God, debates gay people, and yet is also good friends with many, many people from the LGBT community. He writes the book in such a way that is brimming with love, truth, and grace, which is what we’re called to be. Throughout the book, he explains what it looks like to be friends with someone who believes so differently from him. He talks about how sometimes you have to work through misunderstandings and hurt feelings, but that when you build a strong friendship based on the places where you do agree, then this is very possible.

The author also talks about how it’s important not to make friends with someone from the LGBT community (or anywhere, really) just so you can witness to them. He said, of course, he witnesses to his friends from the LGBT community because that’s who he is and what he’s called to do. But if that was the reason for his friendship then that wouldn’t be a real friendship. (Really, you should read the book because he does a LOT better of a job explaining it.)

Throughout the book, he also defines and explains different terms like what “LGBT” really means – what each letter stands for, etc…. It was interesting to me and I was happy to have that knowledge.


Conclusion:

I plan on re-reading this book. It’s written from a Biblical stand point and brimming with grace and truth. I recommend this to Christians (Ages: twenties and up) who want to study out what the Bible really says about this topic.

There are still a few things that I’m not sure if I agree with them, but it’s given me a lot to think about.

Rating: 

I’m giving Loving My LGBT Neighbor 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Moody Press in exchange for a review

The Hideaway – Book Review

The Hideaway

By: Lauren K. Denton

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Third Person • Fiction • 352 Pages

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Backcover Blurb:

When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

Why I Choose this Book:

It looked like a delightful read, and when I read the back cover blurb and sample pages it drew me in. I was headed away for vacation and I thought it would be fun to read this book while away. Plus, my sister just remolded an old house, so I figured it was rather fitting.

What I Thought About This Book:

Ugh. That pretty much sums it up. I dislike reviewing books that I didn’t like, but I didn’t just “not like” this book, I was actually unhappy with it. It not only talks about, but also promotes, behaviors and lifestyles that are completely against what the Bible teaches. Since this book was published by Thomas Nelson, I expected something better. (Note: Although I wouldn’t condone a book that is written like this, I would give more leeway in a review if the book wasn’t published by a Christian publishing company. It’s mainly because of the expectations I had because of the publishing company that made me so disappointed with the book.)

I read the first fourth or third of the book, before realizing that the sin the characters were so obviously indulging in probably wasn’t going to be addressed, but instead was being endorsed. After that I scanned the rest of the book, looking for redemption to come, but I never found it.

Conclusion:

I’m disappointed. The plot might be well-done, the characters might be well-written (although in reality I didn’t really get into either), but the aforementioned content makes it so I won’t recommend nor knowingly read more from this author.

Rating:

I’m giving The Hideaway 1 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from BookLook

A New Favorite Top Ten Author

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This book review isn’t one of my normal ones, it’s more me highlighting a whole series for y’all.

Back in April I entered a giveaway that was sponsored by a lot of authors. Through the giveaway I ended up subscribing to all their newsletters – I didn’t have to in order to enter the giveaway, but I thought it’d be a good way to meet new authors.

After the giveaway (which I didn’t win), ended, a bunch of the author sent out newsletters introducing themselves, and many of them included links to free e-books, which was pretty amazing. One of those authors really stuck out to me because she said “One of the best parts of being an author is connecting with my readers – so why not reply to this email and tell me a little about yourself.” So, even though I’d never heard of the author before the giveaway, I replied. Thus started a short conversation between the two of us that got me interested in reading her books.

You can see my reviews for the first five books here: Book #1Book #2Book # 3Book #4Book #5. Half of the books in this series have been four-star books, and if you’ve been around Noveltea long, then you know how rare it is for me to give a fiction book four stars. (Meaning, I’m really impressed by this author and her writing.)
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Infected

By: Alana Terry

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Third Person • Fiction  • 260 Pages

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I’ve enjoyed this series so much that it’s taken me less than a month to read through all of it. When I finished the 5th book in the series I was disappointed to learn that book #6 hadn’t been released yet. I pre-ordered it right away, then went ahead and contacted the author, asking her if she’d consider sending me an early copy so I could review it, and she graciously agreed. *cue excitement*

Backcover Blurb: 

A global epidemic has doctors and health-care workers panicked, but life continues on as usual for college sophomore Kennedy Stern, who’s not about to let a little virus interrupt her premed studies or dampen her spring break.

When she finds herself isolated in a hospital lockdown, Kennedy and all those quarantined with her can only guess who will survive and who will succumb to the deadly threat confronting them.

An exciting new release from award-winning Christian suspense novelist Alana Terry.

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I was in the middle of another book at the time I received this book, so I didn’t get around to diving into Infected until a day or two after I received it. Then the book drew me in, intrigued me, and made me want to keep reading, reading, reading. (And that I did, until I finally finished the book a little after one last night.)

Once again Miss Alana delivered a winner. The characters are well-developed, unique, and stay true to who they are, while having believable character growth. The book starts out at a slow pace – something I really like, because it has time for me to enjoy the characters before the action begins; kinda like visiting with friends. All my favorite characters were back in this book, including Dominic. I was *so* happy to see Dominic and only wish he’d have been in more scenes. (And, that’s all I’ll say, even though it’s hard to stop there, because I don’t want to have any spoilers.)

As always Kennedy responded to things in such a different way than I would, which made it intriguing to see the world from her point of view. I like how her parents play a clear part in the book, even when they physically haven’t been present in any of them.

One of the main characters in this book is Wrong, a little boy who was adopted from Korea. He was written so realistically that even I felt tired listening to the many questions he asked Kennedy; he also reminded me of a kid I know. His questions, appetites, and random hang-ups (“No, that’s not good grammar, you have to say it this way!”), made him a charming, albeit somewhat annoying child. (It’s clear Miss Alana knows how to write kids well.)

This book deals with issues about why God allows sickness. This is a subject I have thought about and studied a lot due to fighting a disease for nearly a third of my life. Once again I felt like the book was mostly about asking questions on this topic, not giving answers, which in reality is fine and didn’t bother me in the other books. Since this topic is so close to me though, I really wished that the subject of living in a sin cursed world, and the fact that *that’s* why there’s sickness in the world, would have been brought up. Because of that being absent, the book fell just-just-just short of the four-star mark for me. (I rarely give out four-stars for books – in fact, the Kennedy Stern series has received most of my four-star ratings for the last two months of fiction reading, with half the books in the series reaching that allusive status.)

After the first part of the book the pace really picked up, and a few plot twists occurred. As always the writing was well done, the plot well crafted, and the storyline intriguing. I did find myself skimming a bit of Kennedy’s internal monologs at times, simply because I *had* to find out what was happening next.

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If you like reading well-written contemporary books with non-detailed violence, then I highly recommend this series. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series…. Oh, and just a note. You really do need to start out with Book #1, and read the books in order. You can read the first book for free here. 

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I’m giving Infected 3 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10.

You can find out more about Alana Terry (including the fact that she lives in Alaska!) at her website by clicking here

How to Successfully Pivot to a New Career – Love Your Work {Book Review}

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Love Your Work

BY: Robert Dickie

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First Person • NonFiction • 203 Pages

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It sounded like a smart book to read. In reality I already love my work, but the back cover blurb was interesting.

Backcover Blurb: 

Is your career all it could be?

Henry David Thoreau famously said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Does this describe your current work situation?

Whether you’re just starting out, looking for a change, or experiencing unwanted change, there’s a way forward. Love Your Work is about pivoting step-by-step to a more satisfying career. It will help you:

  • Dream up bigger goals than you have now—and meet them
  • Search out new careers or niches within your industry
  • Pursue work and success in the holistic sense

Maybe the new economy feels daunting to you. Maybe you’re not sure how to break out of your industry. Maybe you’re struggling to move up in rank. Wherever you are, if you don’t find your work meaningful and engaging, it’s time for a change, and Love Your Work will prepare you to make it.

Robert Dickie III is a career advisor and CEO passionate about helping people find their best work. And it shows. He offers motivating stories, insights into today’s market, and dozens of resources for growing in your career. By the end of Love Your Work, you won’t just be equipped for the next move, you’ll be inspired for it. You’ll see work differently, and you’ll want to pursue it like you never have before.

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The first several chapters took a while for me to get through – they didn’t exactly apply to where I am in life right now. It felt like information overload and rather boring, like a chunky article that I didn’t exactly know what the takeaway would be for me personally. (To clarify: I’m pretty sure this is because I’m not at a place where this information pertains to me, not because of the book itself.)

About a fourth of the way through the book though, it became a lot more relatable and I began finding gems as I read. There were a lot of great one-liners, quotes, ideas, and statistics. The writing felt a lot more engaging, and I found myself curious about what was going to be shared next.

It’s clear the author really researched the topic of how to build a successful career in todays economy. Some of the information regarding how much the career world is changing was a bit over my head, but mostly I found it intriguing. Obviously I knew that the field of technology is rapidly changing, but I hadn’t realized just how extremely fast that change is happening, so this book was rather eye-opening.

The author presents a balanced and Biblically congruent look at work and careers and giving your best. I appreciated his insights, suggestions, and the resources he suggested. (Not that I’ve looked into all the resources yet, because there were a lot of them.)

One of the “ah-ha moments” for me was when he was talking about someone who regularly asks his audiences what they would do differently if they could go back to when they were 18 and “start again” with their careers, lives, etc…. The author wrote what he’d do, and I realized that as a twenty-four-year-old, I have an advantage over literally everyone older than me who hasn’t stopped to ask themselves questions like that. That advantage, is of course, that I can ask myself that now and make changes at this age, instead of waiting until I’m older to realize it if I’m not on the path that I want to be in life.

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This book had a lot of good information, and even though I regretted requesting it for review at the beginning (because I didn’t feel like it was beneficial to me and it didn’t hold my interest), I’m glad I read it.

I would recommend it to anyone thinking of switching to a new career, or who is dissatisfied with their current job.

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I’m giving “Love Your Work” 3 out of 5 stars, and 5 out of 10.

*I received this book free from Moody Press

Brave is the New Beautiful – Book Review

Brave is the New Beautiful 

BY: Lee Wolfe Blum

Find it on:

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First Person • NonFiction • Narrative Style • 224 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

In a culture that bombards women with “thinspiration” messages and pressure to “do it all” while wearing the mask of perfection, women are left feeling alone and overwhelmed. How can they stop comparing themselves to others? How can they live out who they really are?

Lee Wolfe Blum offers stories from everyday women who have answered these questions with their lives—and found true beauty in the process. In Brave Is the New Beautiful, Blum weaves reflections from her own journey with inspirational stories from everyday women who chose to take off their masks and live authentically. Through call-to-action questions and ideas, she encourages readers to be brave enough to be who they really are and the beloved that God knows they are.

Why I Choose this Book:

The title and cover of the book drew me right in because I think they are both beautiful. Other than that, I think the reason I chose the book was because I figured it would help me be able to relate to others better. I’ve never been someone who’s been overly worried about how I look, and so I thought reading a book about it would be useful.

What I Thought about this Book:

This book was not what I was expecting. It wasn’t really focused on outward beauty at all – not even about how to view it the correct way, etc….  Instead, it was more about the beauty of handling hard situations with God’s grace. The book was, for lack of a better word, simply beautiful.

I began reading the book at the airport while waiting for a flight. By the time I was on the second page of the introduction I was beginning to have second thoughts about reading the book in public because I had a feeling it was going to be a rather deep and somewhat emotional book. But, I kept reading and was nearly instantly sucked in. The writing style is one that can only be described as art. Reading the words themselves was wonderful – like each sentence had been poured over and each word chosen with care. It reminded me of gracefulness and beauty and art and life all combined.

The content of the book…. Each chapter was about a different lady’s life, and how they bravely dealt with a horrible situation in life that they faced. Each of the stories was indeed filled with bravery which was beautiful. Each story was inspiring to me, and even though I couldn’t relate to most of the circumstances, I felt like I could relate to the ladies themselves because they were so human.

Near the end of the book there were some chapters that had me fighting down tears. And, since I was reading the book while in an airplane full of strangers, I did fight the tears. If I would have been alone though, I probably would have been outright crying. All that to say, the book wasn’t depressing. It didn’t put me in a downcast mood. It talked about REALLY hard situations, but each one of them was talked about with the tone of hope, and that’s what made the difference.

I finished the book just several hours after I started it, because it was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down. I am thankful indeed to have read it.

Conclusion:

This book wasn’t light in fluffy. It was hard, and real, and brave, and beautiful. I recommend it a lot. But, because of the content in the book, I’m not sure what age I would recommend it to, I guess each person will have to decide that for themselves.

Rating: 

I’m giving Brave is the New Beautiful 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Litfuse

Think Again – Book Review

Think Again: Relief from the Burden of Introspection

By: Jared Mellinger

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First Person • NonFiction • Narrative Style • 192 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Being mindful about who you are and what you are doing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Evaluating yourself is necessary and can lead to positive change.

But what about the dark side of introspection? Do you ever feel weighed down and exhausted by your own self analysis? Perhaps you made a mistake, said a careless word, or even messed up big time. Now you cant get it out of your mind. You keep revisiting what happened. Your mind circles around the event, fruitlessly trying to somehow make the outcome different so that you don’t feel embarrassment, shame, and regret.

Jared Mellinger, a pastor and self-confessed struggler with introspection holds out the hope of the gospel for those who, like him, overdose on introspection. Only truly understanding the gospel can rescue us from false guilt, fruitless self-examination, and self-accusation.

The only long-term solution to thinking too much about ourselves is when our attention is drawn away from ourselves and Jesus fills our minds eye.

Why I Choose this Book:

 

 

Although I’m not sure how overly introspective I am, feeling extremely guilty when I’ve made a mistake or messed something up is something I’ve struggled with all of my life. (And I’m talking about my day feeling ruined because of something that most people would have forgotten about in a matter of minutes.) Therefore, I figure this book might provide a healthy and balanced perspective.

What I Thought about this Book:

Yes, yes, and yes. This book was a solid four-star read. Nearly every page had me nodding. Lightbulbs were going off. It was good. The book was incredibly balanced, practical, and easy to understand. It was also interesting, flowed well, and made a lot of sense. So, pretty much combine that with a topic I needed to study, and we have a winning book. (In fact, those six elements are the big things I look for in nonfiction, and this book hit all of them.)

One of the biggest things I realized while reading this book is that when I feel guilty, it’s most likely because I’m taking my eyes off of Jesus to focus too much on myself. (Which, strangely enough, isn’t something I would have realized on my own.) Feeling guilty can be helpful, but it can be very detrimental, too. Not only did this book explain why people are introspective at times, but the book also went through when it’s healthy, how it’s healthy, and when and why and how it can be unhealthy, too. Then, it followed up with what we can do to become more balanced and healthy in the area of introspection. The book was through and moved along at a fast clip and impressed me a lot.

Although it’s good to take time to evaluate how we’re doing in life, it’s so important for us to do that quickly and then get the focus off of ourselves and look back to Jesus. The book also talked very practically about when it’s a good time to be introspective, and when it’s a bad time. For instance, you don’t want to take time to be introspective at the end of a long day when you’re exhausted, yet that’s naturally when our brains start going through events and beating us up. Obviously, that isn’t healthy. So, we need to teach ourselves to not allow our minds to begin taking inventory of how we’re doing, but instead to focus on Jesus and His goodness during times like that.

All in all, the book was totally spot-on.

Conclusion:

I highly recommend this book – not only to people who struggle with introspection, but pretty much to anyone.

Rating: 

I’m giving Think Again 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Litfuse

Control Girl – Book Review – Five Stars!

By:  Shannon Popkin

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First Person • Non-Fiction • One Point of View • 207 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don’t match your version of perfect. Tension, anger, fear, anxiety–it all begins with a heart that craves control. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God’s, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts.

Thankfully, there is a better way.

Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and
about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve’s desire to know instead of trust, Sarah’s inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah’s controlling hand on her family’s future, each of these women’s stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.

Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.

Why I Choose this Book:

 

Looking back, I’m not quite sure what my motive was with choosing this book. In reality, I think it must have been a nudge from God, because it turns out that this book was just what I needed at this time in my life.

What I Thought about this Book:

If you would have asked me if I had issues with wanting to be in control, I probably would have said no, or at least not really. Reading Control Girl was rather eye-opening to me, because I realized that I like to be in control of stuff a lot more than I realized. Most of the time it’s little things – like it bothers me when I make a meal and people arrive late and the food gets cold. I’m also that way with bigger areas, too, sometimes. And, the more I’m that way with little things, the more likely I’ll be that way with big things, and that’s a problem.

Control Girl reminded me over and over again how God really does have everything under control. The book went through the lives of seven different women in the Bible (all from Genesis, actually), and talked about how they were basically control freaks. Instead of trusting and resting in God to do what was best, they took matters into their own hands and epically messed up what was supposed to be beautiful.

It was such a good reminder for me to fully trust in God instead of trying to push my own agenda. It’s not always easy, but reading the book was very helpful in remembering that even when it’s not easy, it’s still way better than what will happen if I become controlling and try and get things figured out on my own.

The author did a fantastic job of balancing Biblical accounts, thoughts, and personal stories. I have a very hard time reading impersonal books, and this book felt nice and personal – nearly like I got to be friends with the author. So yay. (Also cue happiness for my first five-star read of the year!)

Control Girl was written for wives and mothers, and, as a single girl (with no kids), I can still say that it was extremely helpful. In fact, I would recommend it for single girls – why wait until you’re married to work through any issues you have with being controlling?

 

Conclusion:

This book wasn’t written for kids, obviously, but I would probably recommend it to all girls ages seventeen and up.

It’s not a long book, but it takes a bit of time to get through, because there are lots of scripture passages to read as you go through the book. (And please, make sure you do read the correlating scripture because it will make the book so much more effective.)

Rating: 

I’m giving Control Girl 5 out of 5 stars, and 10 out of 10.

*I received this book from Litfuse

The Lost Girl of Astor Street – Book Review

The Lost Girl of Astor Street 

By:  Stephanie Morrill

Find it on:

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First Person • Fiction • One Point of View • 352 Pages

Find clue hunt/giveaway information, plus author interview here.

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

Why I Choose this Book:

This is at least the fourth post in which I’ve talked about The Lost Girl of Astor Street in the last month, so you probably are getting tired of hearing how excited I am about it. The solution? Just read the book for yourself and see how cool it is. =)

Quick overview though: I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since Stephanie first mentioned she was writing it in 2014. I was intrigued right away, and the book did not disappoint.

What I Thought about this Book:

It was a total surprise. I’m not sure what I expected, but Lost Girl blew my ideas out of the water and pretty much amazed me. I was sucked into the world, intrigued by Piper’s point of view, and throughly enjoyed getting to know the characters better.

And, on the subject of characters, let me talk about them for a bit…

Piper – First of all, she has an incredible name, so cute. Second of all, I was pretty impressed with how very different she was from Stephanie’s other main characters. Piper was unique, experienced growth, and although I couldn’t always relate to her personally, I felt like I understood her. She was also very realistic, so yay!

Lydia – Lydia is a rather uncommon name in books, so it was a little bit weird to be reading about one (since I share the name). I’ll have to say, the plot twists with her were a total surprise to me. I liked her character, she was a good balance for Piper. It makes sense that the two of them would be best friends.

Walter – Goodness! I was caught between wishing the plot would go somewhere that it didn’t, and thinking YES! Finally, a book that gets it right! In the end, my happiness for the part Walter played in the story won out. I liked him a lot, and could relate to the relationship he had with the other characters quite well.

There are obviously a lot more characters I could talk about, but those were my top three I felt like discussing. On to the plot….

It’s a mystery. I knew that, but somehow I sorta forgot that when I began reading the book (probably because the other books Stephanie has written aren’t mysteries). It didn’t take long for the mystery part to erupt though, and erupt it did. The pacing of the book was really well done. The plot had twists. The mystery was intriguing. Altogether it was a fantastic book, and one I’m looking forward to re-reading after I receive the hardback copy I bought.

Conclusion:

I don’t condone all of Piper’s actions by any means, and there was some violence, etc…. For the most part though, it was kept vague and I was happy with it. Way to go, Stephanie!

Rating: 

I’m giving Lost Girl of Astor Street 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from the author

Characters, Inns, and Secrets, Oh My! (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill – Book Review)

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

By  Julie Klassen

Find it on:

Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • Multiple Points of View • 448 Pages

 

1

 

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood–along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family’s inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell’s owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.

Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband’s legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband’s brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?

 

Why I Choose this Book:

Of late it seems as if covers have had far more power to grab me in than they used to have. This cover was so beautiful that I read the blurb, and when it didn’t appear to be too romantic, I requested the book. I still think the cover is the most eye-pleaseing one I’ve seen in some time.

What I Thought about this Book:

The book was slloowww getting started. I spent the first while wondering who the main character even was. As the story picked up a bit, I was surprised to find myself beginning to get intrigued. By the time the book was nearly over it was difficult to put down. (As in, reading far into the night.)

I felt as if I’d come to now the characters and I wanted to figure out what would happen to them next. There was good character development – I went from not liking any of the main people to being able to see why they did what they did and it making sense. I also enjoyed the setting. It seems like a lot of research went in to making the book realistic, and even though I had a few quibbles here and there, overall I felt like I was sucked into then world.

The plot was nice, but it’s a mostly character driven book, which I enjoyed. It reminded me of a Jane Austen book, which make sense considering the setting and time period. There wasn’t a huge amount of romance, but certainly a realistic amount that was handled well. (Yay for balance!)

Conclusion:

If I had the second book in the series at my beck and call, I’m pretty sure I would be picking it up before the day was over.

The objections and hesitancies I have for this book are very few. There are some things that obviously aren’t acceptable, but they were portrayed as such. So, happy day!

Rating: 

I’m giving The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill 3 out of 5 stars, and 6 out of 10.

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers